The National Retail Federation today predicted that retail sales during the holiday months of November and December will grow 3.7% over last year and that non-store sales will grow 6-8%.
“With several months of solid retail sales behind us, we’re heading into the all-important holiday season fully expecting to see healthy growth,” says NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay.
Non-store sales include online sales, but also sales through mail-order catalogs, telephone sales and other direct-to-consumer sales that do not take place online. Those non-web categories are growing more slowly than online sales, which comScore Inc. says grew about 15% year over year during the holiday 2014 period. The NRF reported in January that non-store sales in November and December 2014 increased 6.8% over 2013, while total sales increased 4.1%.
The retail trade group is slightly less bullish about this year than last because of some factors that could drag down gift-buying in the months ahead.
“While economic indicators have improved in several areas, Americans remain somewhat torn between their desire and their ability to spend; the fact remains consumers still have the weight of the economy on their minds, further explaining the complex retail spending environment we are seeing right now,” says Shay says. “We expect families to spend prudently and deliberately, though still less constrained than what we saw even two years ago.”
“Potential disruptions from yet another government shutdown in mid-December and a slower pace of job creation and income growth are just a few key factors that will impact holiday shoppers’ spending this year,” Shay says. “Price, value and even timing will all play a role in how, when, where and why people shop over the holiday season. Retailers will be competitive not only on price, but on digital initiatives, store hours, product offerings and much more.”
NRF estimates retail sales in November and December—excluding autos, gasoline and restaurant sales—will grow to $630.5 billion while non-store sales reach $105 billion.
NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz says sales growth could be limited by “slower job growth in 2015, deflationary retail prices and the mix of consumer spending somewhat shifting toward big-ticket items and services as well as the wild card in our government spending debates. All said, there’s no reason to doubt that we will see solid retail sales growth in the final two months of the year.”
Kleinhenz tells Internet Retailer that the NRF projects non-store sales because that is what the U.S. Commerce Department reports in its monthly estimates of retail sales, and thus projecting those sales allows the NRF to gauge its estimates for November and December against government data. The Commerce Department only reports online retail sales by quarter.